12th-13th century, 14th Century, 15th century, Bernardo Bellotto, Canaletto, Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velásquez, Dresden, Groninger Museum, Pietro Antonio Graf Rotari, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Titian, Tiziano Vecellio
Pietro Antonio Graf Rotari, Man with fur hat, 1755, oil painting, 35 x 43,5 cm, Dresdener Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister.
GRONINGEN.- The collections in Dresden form one of the best-kept secrets of European art. At the time, the art compilations amassed by Prince-Electors of Saxony in the eighteenth century belonged to the most beautiful and renowned collections in Europe. The Secret of Dresden – From Rembrandt to Canaletto displays a selection from the impressive collection of paintings that nowadays constitute the core of the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden. There are masterpieces such as the Rembrandt’s Abduction of Ganymede (1635), as well as works by painters who were once considered to be masters but have now been (almost) forgotten. Together they tell the story of the florescence of the court of Saxony in the eighteenth century.
Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Ganymede in the Claws of the Eagle, 1635, Oil on canvas, 177 x 129 cm, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden.
Saxony was already one of the most prosperous German states when Prince-Elector August the Strong managed to acquire the kingship of Poland in 1697. He underlined his new status among the royal courts of Europe by starting up ambitious building projects and initiating an impressive art collection that could rival those of the major royal collections of that period. After his death, his collecting activities were continued by his son August III until deep into the eighteenth century. The cultural wealth of Dresden was so notable that the city was referred to as ‘Florence on the Elbe’. The general public was increasingly granted access to the collection of paintings, so that one of the first public museums in the world eventually arose. Goethe, who often visited the Gemäldegalerie, regarded it as a true sanctuary of art.
Bernardo Bellotto, called Canaletto, Dresden from the Right Bank of the Elbe above the Augustus Bridge, 1747, Oil on canvas, 132 x 236 cm, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden.
As a consequence of renovation, a part of the collection of the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister has now become temporarily available for display elsewhere. In a number of thematic chapters, ‘The Secret of Dresden’ tells of the important role of art in eighteenth-century Saxony. On show are mythological paintings by Rembrandt and Canaletto, portraits by Titian and Velazquez, views of Venice by Canaletto, and landscapes by Philips Wouwerman and Claude Lorrain.
Titian (Tiziano Vecellio), Portrait of a lady in white, oil painting, 102 x 86 cm, Dresdener Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister.
Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velásquez, Portrait of a Knight of the Order of Santiago, circa 1635, Oil on canvas, 67.3 x 56 cm, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden.
Bernardo Bellotto, called Canaletto, The Ruins of the Old Kreuzkirche in Dresden, 1765, Oil on canvas, 80 x 110 cm, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden.
In addition to Groningen, this exhibition will also be on display in Munich and Vienna. An extensive German catalogue will accompany the exhibition, supplemented by a more concise Dutch-language version.
An exhibition organized by the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden in conjunction with the Groninger Museum.
13 December – 25 May, 10am – 5pm
Dutch Queen Maxima and Groninger Museum director Andreas Bluhm look at the painting « Dresden from the right bank of the Elde » by painter Bernardo Bellotto during the official opening of the exhibition ‘The secret of Dresden’ in Groningen, on December 12, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ANP / VINCENT JANNINK.
Dutch Queen Maxima looks at ta painting during the official opening of the exhibition ‘The secret of Dresden’ at the Groninger Museum in Groningen, on December 12, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ANP / VINCENT JANNINK